Stressed about classroom management? You’re not the only one.
Four in ten teachers say they struggle to cope with poor behavior.
This statistic has only increased over recent years. It’s possible this will become an even more pressing issue after the recent remote learning stint due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Figuring out how to manage a classroom can feel like a delicate balancing act, based on each unique class and pupil. But there are some easy classroom management activities that can help you even with the trickiest of classes!
Components of Classroom Management
Whether you’re brand new to education or a seasoned veteran, classroom management is something educators need to continually learn. Before we get into our list of activities to help you manage your classroom, a quick refresher on some of the key characteristics of good classroom management:
- Physical environment
Your atmosphere is key in helping you manage a classroom. You need to foster and encourage a positive learning space, with a focus on teamwork and productivity. With a focused, engaged learning environment there is less time for distractions or disruptions.
Your physical environment is closely linked to your atmosphere. Your classroom should be organized, clean and your displays full of relevance to the learning being undertaken. Overall, you want your classroom to be a positive and welcoming space for students, so you both want to be there.
Differentiation is closely linked with the positive learning space previously mentioned. Catering to all learning levels and styles should be an obvious part of creating an inclusive and welcoming environment. Without good differentiation, you are more likely to run into behavioral issues from unengaged students.
These key components help in limiting poor behavior as they drive student progress and encourage engagement from all students, ultimately helping reduce stress and burnout on staff.
Activities to Manage a Classroom
Classroom management can be continually learned (and occasionally even mastered!) with great activities that promote the key components of a well-managed classroom.
1. Introduce Classroom Rules and Responsibilities
It goes without saying you’ll likely have school-wide rules on behavior in place already. Take it a step further by creating rules for your classroom that fit with your personal ethos and teaching style.
This shouldn’t be done solely by the teacher. This is an activity for the whole class to do together. It’s a great way to establish mutual respect with students, as well as introducing boundaries and expectations quickly.
You can use your school behavior rules as an initial guideline for this activity. Reflect on them with your students and discuss why they’re in place. Get them to express their opinions on which ones they think are most important and why.
Role-play some scenarios with and without rules in place. Then ask them to come up with any new ideas and suggest any extra ideas you might have for rules. Build a document together and display the rules in your classroom for future reference.
We’d suggest not having too many rules so they’re easy to remember. Have clear consequences and rewards to follow from them that everyone is aware of.
Following on from this discussion, you can identify classroom responsibilities for students. This helps empower students as an active contributor to their learning environment. Some ideas could be:
- Board cleaner
- Book distributor/collector
- Classroom leader
- Floor inspector
Again, give clear descriptions of the duties and the procedures to fulfill their role. Create another document to display with the roles on, as well as any rotas. This kind of inclusivity helps promote a positive and productive environment where everyone in the classroom is responsible for their learning.
2. Make Beautiful Wall Displays
We touched on how important the physical environment is to classroom management earlier, but it cannot be stressed enough. Studies have shown time and time again that classroom design is a key component in learning.
That includes both the chosen layout of your classroom and the aesthetic appearance of it. It can even help with differentiation as good classroom design can help facilitate learning for pupils with special educational needs.
Similarly, to making classroom rules a collaborative activity, the aesthetic of the classroom can be too.
Your wall displays should be decorative, with relevant educational materials for your classes. Getting your students to create these as an activity can give them ownership over their learning space. In turn, this can help them treat your classroom respectfully, as well as making it somewhere they want to be.
This activity is also great for differentiation. It lets students use their particular learning style as they see fit to help create beautiful displays that they can take pride in. These should be updated regularly to fit with terms and themes, as well as to remind your students just how proud you are of their work!
3. Take a Break
Now more than ever, in an unprecedented time where school routines have changed almost unrecognizably in some instances, educators are feeling burnt out. But this applies to students too.
The pandemic is having a huge impact on children and young people’s mental health. They’re just as burnt out as educators.
The classroom may not feel like it once did to students prior to remote learning. Particularly when many schools have been forced to revert to forward-facing rows, with physical distancing in place throughout lessons.
These big changes can leave students feeling restless and unsure. Part of your classroom management should be creating a calm, safe space for your pupils. Knowing when to give your students a break is part of this.
When you have a restless class, try a five-minute break. Whether that break is to have a group discussion on how they’re feeling, or chat among themselves, it can help students relax and refocus. It also shows your students you care about their well-being above anything else.
You can use a visibly displayed timer to ensure breaks don’t overrun and to remind students it isn’t time to slack off for the remainder of the lesson.
Classroom management isn’t solely the responsibility of teachers. Educators struggling with classroom management can find support from:
- Special education directors
- School counselors
- School psychologists
- Behavior interventionists
Working with these members of staff can help to address specific issues with particular students. We also offer more than 60 hours of K-12 behavior management training to help you learn how to manage a classroom!